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2014 Season Outlook

Point Park Women's Cross Country has talented, deep roster for 2014 season

Aug. 29, 2014


PITTSBURGH -- The Point Park University women's cross country 2014 roster is not only talented but also deep. The Pioneers not only return four of their top five runners who led them to third place of 10 teams in the KIAC last year, they also welcome in a strong group of newcomers who will make an immediate impact on the team.

Point Park, which begins its 2014 season Aug. 29 at the Wooster Invitational (6 p.m.), are under the direction of 11th-year head coach Jim Irvin. Third place at the KIAC Meet in 2013 was the highest placement ever for the Pioneers at a conference meet, and they have the personnel to build on that this year.

The top returner is senior Hanka Jiraskova, a native of the Czech Republic who has qualified for the NAIA national championship meet the last two years after transferring from Maryland Eastern Shore. The two-time All-KIAC performer owns the school record in the 5K (19:51) and 6K (23:54).

Sophomore Ashley Czerniewski-Hagan (Pittsburgh, Pa./Baldwin HS) was the Pioneers' No. 2 runner last year, and she earned All-KIAC second team honors. She just missed a spot a nationals in 2013 with a 5K time of 20:04 in the KIAC Meet last year.

Seniors Katie Johnston (Newville, Pa./Big Spring HS), Christina Wisniewski (West Lawn, Pa./Wilson HS) and Lindsey Palmer (Rochester, N.Y./Eastridge HS) are all back for the fourth year with the Pioneers. As the No. 4-6 runners on the team last year, all three posted times under 22 minutes for a 5K in 2013. Bryn McClay, a junior from Cincinnati, Ohio, returns for her third year.

The roster is aided by incoming of runners who will be competing for the Pioneers' brand-new track and field program in addition to running cross country. Track and field head coach Kelly Parsley had a big recruiting hand in the added cross country talent, and the Pioneers are stronger than ever.

Emily Maxwell, from New Castle, Pa., is a sophomore transfer from Youngstown State University. A former WPIAL champion at Laurel High School, she placed fourth in the 2012 PIAA state meet and posted a season-best time of 18:40 in the 5K as a freshman at YSU.

Another sophomore newcomer is Kelsey Wilkins from Central Valley High School. A member of the Point Park women's soccer team last year as a freshman, Wilkins has gone out for cross country this year and has been a leader in the time trials for the Pioneers this preseason.

Katie Guarnaccia, from North Allegheny High School, is a freshman who finished in the top 20 of the WPIAL meet. A two-time qualifier for the PIAA state meet in cross country, she posted a personal-best time of 20:03 in the 5K in high school.

Three more freshmen joining the team also have strong times from high school. Stephanie Hutchinson, from Norwin High School, has a personal-record of 21:38 in the 5K. McKenzie Wilson, from Xenia, Ohio, owns a PR of 22:38, and Alexis Sherman, from Bishop Canevin High School, comes in at 22:20 in the 5K.

For thoughts from head coach Jim Irvin on the 2014 season outlook, watch the video interview on the Pioneers YouTube channel posted above or click here: WATCH

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